In Pingyao, there is a youth hostel called Yamen Hostel, probably the best youth hostel across China. Because the hostel is so wonderful, my friend has stayed in the city for over two weeks.
The hostel is located in a very well preserved and charming traditional courtyard mansion – with front yards and backyards, and halls in the middle. It was built in 1591 to house the emperor on his planned visit to the city, but the emperor cancelled his visit and the mansion was never used for its original purpose.
This explains the tranquil atmosphere and beautiful architectural design of the hostel. Undoubtedly, the attraction of the hostel lies in the rare opportunity it offers to foreign travelers to sample living in a hundreds-years-old Chinese building at a minimum price and with a lovely atmosphere.
The guest rooms are all richly decorated, with internet access. The lobby with comfortable sofas, pleasant music and wifi, is a great place to meet people, or read books, or surf the net. Most importantly, the staff is very friendly. Toward the end of his stay, my friend not only got a discount for his ensuite room, but also had two free nights of accommodation.
And, the hostel has a nicely run kitchen – the food it churns out, western or eastern, is delicious.